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Interfering with the brain: use of RNA interference for understanding the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Thakker, Deepak, Hoyer, Daniel and Cryan, John F. (2006) Interfering with the brain: use of RNA interference for understanding the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurological disorders. Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 109 (3). pp. 413-438. ISSN 0163-7258


Psychiatric and neurological disorders are among the most complex, poorly understood, and debilitating diseases in medicine. The burgeoning advances in functional genomic technologies have led to the identification of a vast number of novel genes that are potentially implicated in the pathophysiology of such disorders. However, many of these candidate genes have not yet been functionalized and require validation in vivo. Traditionally, abrogating gene function is one of the primary means of examining the physiological significance of a given gene product. Several methods have been developed for gene ablation or knockdown, however, with limited levels of success. The recent discovery of RNA interference (RNAi), as a highly efficient method for gene knockdown, has been one of the major breakthroughs in molecular medicine. In vivo application of RNAi is further demonstrating the promise of this technology. Recent efforts have focused on applying RNAi-based knockdown to understand the genes implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the greatest challenge with this approach is translating the success of RNAi from mammalian cell cultures to the brain in animal models of disease and, subsequently, in patients. In this review, we describe the various methods that are being developed to deliver RNAi into the brain for down-regulating gene expression and subsequent phenotyping of genes in vivo. We illustrate the utility of various approaches with a few successful examples and also discuss the potential benefits and pitfalls associated with the use of each delivery approach. Appropriate tailoring of tools that deliver RNAi in the brain may not only aid our understanding of the complex pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders, but may also serve as a valuable therapy for disorders, where there is an immense unmet medical need.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: author can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing); Publisher's version/PDF cannot be used
Keywords: Short interfering RNA; Short-hairpin RNA; Target validation; Gene knockdown; Therapy; Neurodegenerative disorders
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Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2009 13:58
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2009 13:58


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